Installing telecom- need radio advice

I am looking to purchase a couple of rechargeable radios- would help if they were a little water resistant- I need something for someone in a big box store to reach someone outside the store- I know when I’m in Walmart- my phone doesn’t work sometimes- don’t know anything about two way radios- we are installing cables and need to be able to communicate- I would love recommendations

Like many other things in life, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for licence-free radios, you may be able to make do with a good set of FRS radios. There are some nice consumer-grade FRS radios on the market, especially the new DeWalt line and some of the higher-end Motorolas. Range should be okay from inside the store to outside. Just be aware that range predictions are highly dependent on conditions. While some radios are advertised as “35-mile,” understand that that range would only be realized if both radios were on mountaintops with nothing in between them. The truth is that no two-way VHF or UHF radio will give you more than a fraction of a mile in real-world, urban conditions.

Also, FRS radios use shared bands, and this means every kid and drive-through in a ten block radius can potentially interfere with your transmissions.

If you want quality industrial-grade radios that will last years and cannot be monitored by anyone else, we often highly recommend the Motorola DTR or DLR line of licence-free radios. They are not cheap, but if you are in the telecom business, then you know that technicians can buy cable cutters and wire strippers for $10 at your local discount tool store, or you can spend $60 on good quality ones. The $10 ones may last a few days with heavy use; the professional ones last a career.

The Motorola DTR/DLR radios are ideal for use in and around buildings and they have the longest range one can ever get with a UHF two-way radio. Even better, the clarity of the sound is much superior to analog radios.

Hope this helps.

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Wow Chickenhawk! That is so much good and useful info! Thank u so much- if I could convince my company to splurge on radios, I’ll certainly get the Motorola radios- but since I’m paying out of pocket- I’ll try the FRS. I’ll be only about 50-100’ away- inside and a person ouside- it’s really hard to work with cell phones and when you can’t get signal- it just plain sux.
I really appreciate the info! Thank you so much

At that range, I would definitely try the FRS radios. They may be exactly what you need. Personally, if I were you, I would try those new DeWalt FRS radios.

If you have any questions about them, this forum is hosted by, and they are great folks. They are knowledgeable and shipping is very fast. (Even to me way up here in Canada!)

Prior to COVID-19, I worked with two-way radios nearly every day, so if you also have questions about accessories like speaker mics or earpiece mics, let me know. If you actually get the kits that come with the earpieces, try them out to see if you like them. It gives your workers more hands-free operation. If you like them, there are better ones on the market that are not much more money. The biggest single piece of advice I can give is if you are using those air-tube earpieces (often called “surveillance” earpieces, because they look like what the Secret Service uses) ditch the rubber earpiece that goes in your ear, and order some ear molds instead. You will thank me. Trust me. (Most men are medium and most ladies are small.)

Ok- I took your advice and ordered the Dewalt 2 watt. I’m sure after using them on Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be back to talk about accessories- you have been a great help and I appreciate you- I like your handle- mine used to be “Southern”. I was on a tour over seas and we had the rest of the team all gave us our call names- I was lucky enough (and liked enough) to get a good one! Lol
Thanks again Chickenhawk.

I have a question about that because we run the GMRS at camp and they just don’t have the range as you stated. So are there mobile type units for this Motorola DTR or DLR system??

Unfortunately, no. At least, not legally. The FCC limits the 900MHz frequencies these radios use to 1 watt, so a mobile radio with such low power isn’t commercially viable.

GMRS is capable of great range, if you know how to leverage it. The wattage isn’t the most important factor. It depends on where you are situated, the terrain around you, how finely tuned your antenna is, where you place it.

If the GMRS radios at your camp don’t have great range, there may be other factors to consider.

What sort of range really?

I have the Midland MXT115 and don’t know what range to expect with it, keeping in mind that my other radios are handheld Motorolas and an old Cobra. I found recently when I was way out in the sticks that they’d all call each other fine from a distance of around a mile, but through a massive granite hill that very much blocked the line of site. The Mxt115 was much better than the handhelds however.

But otherwise my reception, admittedly from my Jeep mounted MXT115 to my handhelds has been spotty at ranges of five miles or so, in town. I did pick up and send a transmission at over ten (probably around twelve) miles, and out to around 25 miles on one occasion, but only briefly.

Which country are you? if in the UK I would be prepared to lend you 2 radios (Hytera) to try using our licenced hire frequencies, for a week

It really depends.

In flat terrain, you can see roughly 6-10 miles mobile to mobile. Portable to portable will rarely exceed a mile.

In mountainous terrain, you could see 40+ miles if one radio has the advantage of being on a mountain or you could be lucky to see 1/4 mile.

The main thing is, if you need reliable communications then you really need the services of a consultant.

What I mean by great range, is great range for a typical radio that operates line-of-site. All terrestrial handheld and mobile radios are short range devices and rely on their ability to see one another across the same horizon. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a GMRS, ham, marine or business radio, with all things being equal, the range is going to be roughly the same, and limited by the same factors. These include elevation, terrain, distance to horizon, natural and man-made obstructions, weather, antenna, etc. Wattage is also a factor but is not the most critical, since you can have a 50 watt transmitter in the bottom of a ravine or between two mountains and it will get about as far as a 5 watt transmitter in the same location.

This GMRS Radio Range Chart provides more information on what to expect for range.

Got the Dewalt and they worked great this week- from inside the building to outside the building- now if they will work well in the manhole system- we will be bang in’!!
Thanks for your help